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BP adviser: Fund will act independently to pay claims

By Ethan Harp

(CNN) -- One of BP's new advisers outlined a $20 billion escrow account that will be funded by the oil giant, after company executives met with President Barack Obama on Wednesday at the White House.

BP adviser Jamie Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general, told CNN that the fund was created to allow a quick, independent process to pay claims by individuals and companies.

"That is, where claims will be adjudicated according to law by an independent person with access to three judges with a claim that will be determined within a very fast period," she said.

"This is an attempt ... to try to meet some of the concerns which have been about, in part, how do we get compensated? Will the money be there? This is the company saying this is an extraordinary thing. This is an extraordinary event. But the company is setting aside $20 billion to be available to pay claims from people who have been hurt," Gorelick said.

When asked whether BP will be able to continue paying claims going forward, Gorelick told CNN's "Campbell Brown" show that "BP does have to continue as a functioning, vibrant member of the economy in order to pay those claims. What we are trying to do is structure a fund so that the monies will be there to meet the claims as they come in. The company knows, and you heard from the [BP] chairman today, that this is a long haul, that the damage that has been done is profound."

The underwater gusher began after an April 20 explosion aboard the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon. The explosion and subsequent fire caused the rig to sink two days later, rupturing the pipes and sending oil spilling from the well.